Searchlight on Lagos 2019 Elections: One killed, 23 arrested, DPO, DCO queried over election violence

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By Mary BASSEY, Ass. Investigator Editor, Lagos.

THE Presidential and National Assembly elections conducted yesterday across the length and breadth Lagos State went relatively peaceful save for the sudden outbreak of violence recorded in Aguda area of Surulere and Ago Palaceway in Okota respectively.

Our Assistant Investigator Editor who monitored the elections with the duo of the State Commissioner of Police, CP Muazu Zubairu and Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of zone 2 Onikan comprising Lagos and Ogun Commands, AIG David Folawunyo reports that 9 political thugs armed with axes and charms were arrested in Shomolu area of Lagos while allegedly harassing innocent voters who had queued to cast their votes while 6 others were also arrested in Epe, on the outskirts of Lagos.  According to the report, elections in nearly all the polling units in the state were peaceful except the staggered complaints of late arrival of election materials.

However, in Aguda, thugs suspected to be acting the script of an unnamed APC chieftain stormed one of the polling units in the area and disrupted the voting exercise. But sources said the Police rose up to the challenge and 6 of the thugs were arrested and taken into custody. Also in some polling units in Ago Palaceway Okota, especially 016, 017, 038; thugs suspected to be members of the outlawed Oodua Peoples Congress OPC allegedly went berserk and prevented eligible voters from casting their votes if they would not vote for the ruling All Progressives Congress APC. An INEC adhoc official was caught on camera vividly telling the electorate that she was under strict instruction to ensure that whoever was not voting the APC should not be allowed to cast his or her vote stressing, “I have been instructed to allow only APC voters in this polling unit; they told me that when Dr. Fredrick Fasheun was alive in 2015, PDP won this unit but now that he is no longer alive, we must deliver this unit to APC must. So if you know that you are for PDP please leave.”  But the people were said to have insisted voting their conscience and that reportedly prompted large scale violence following which ballot papers and boxes were destroyed and burnt. An alleged leader of the OPC in the area identified as Ademola Adeleke who led a 15 man thugs to disrupt the exercise was chased and seriously injured while his motor-bike was set ablaze by aggrieved voters who maintained that they could not be intimated to vote against their will. The Police say the sum of N350,000 cash was recovered in his pocket when being handed to the SCIID for interrogation and possible prosecution.  As of the time of this report, he was said to be recuperated in an unnamed hospital in the area after the deadly attack on him. Perhaps, one aspect of the ugly incident  the report added was the fact that while the mayhem was going on, the Divisional Police Officer DPO of Ago Palaceway Division, CSP Oyin Francess Adamu and her Divisional Crime Officer, DCO SP Oladimeji Olatunji looked the other way.  It was gathered that it took the prompt intervention of the Area Commander, ACP Olasoji Akinbayo who was far away monitoring the exercise in some polling units in Ajao estate to restore sanity to the troubled areas. According to sources, the non-nonsense Police officer who stormed the areas with his team arrested one of the thugs and impounded nine of the motor-bikes by which they rode on after abandoning them and took to their heels. But moments after,  the arrested suspect who was taken to the Police station to be detained was released allegedly on the order of the DPO; even without the knowledge of the Area Commander who made the arrest.  He was said to have arrived the scene to cause more havoc. In the meantime, a mild drama played out at the Canal estate off Chief Nwanchukwu Drive after the DCO Ago Division told the visiting CP and AIG entourage that the situation on Ago Palaceway had been put under control while all the voters had left for their respective homes. But the insistence of the Police chiefs to visit the scene of the violent revealed a different scenario entirely as mammoth  crowds were spotted on ground protesting and shouting, ‘We want to vote, we want to vote, Police have compromised, we want to vote; OPC leader Demola and his thugs have disrupted the exercise…”  Meanwhile, both the Area Command, Commander RRS ACP Tunji Disu and the DCP Ops Mohammed Alli were on ground calming frayed nerves. But a shocked CP Zubairu who wondered why SP Olatunji was diverting his attention assured anxious newsmen that the matter would be dealt with administratively. The CP and his AIG later addressed the aggrieved crowd with a promise to take their complaints to the appropriate quarters. As of 7.00pm yesterday, sources said the query of the DPO and her DCO had been transmitted to them adding that they were queried to explain why they chose to be unprofessional by disobeying lawful order of their superior officer.

At the Abiriba Street, Canal estate where a voter was allegedly shot dead, another group of voters accused the branch chairman of  NURTW in Cele bust stop identified as Onimama to be responsible for the violence adding that even the soldiers who were meters away from the polling booths feigned ignorance while the thugs unleashed mayhem on defenseless voters. Meanwhile, the youth leader of the estate, Mayor John Odufe has vowed to retaliate the death of the Igbo voter identified simply as Peter saying, “The APC sent thugs here to disrupt the elections because they know that this is a stronghold of the Igbos; they wanted us to vote their candidate but cannot be; we will retaliate the murder of Peter by Onimama’s thugs, we know where to get them.”

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